Posted: October 17, 2016
Written by Sarita Sastry, National Director, Research and Programs.
For any high-schooler, and their parents, applying to college can be both an exciting and overwhelming process. Imagine if your son or daughter had a chronic disease like cancer, or is a childhood cancer survivor – the process of choosing and applying to college and the transition is especially hard.
The School Intervention & Re-Entry Program at Stony Brook Children’s Hospital has been assisting students from pre-school through high school with transitions to school for many years. Now, through support from a CureSearch Community Impact Award, awarded to Debra Giugliano, RN, CPNP, CPON, Director of the School Intervention & Re-Entry Program, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital offers a program for this unique population of students transitioning to college.
The College Workshop and Expo entitled “Surviving the Search: Free College Workshop and Expo for Students with Cancer and Blood Disorders” was held on September 18, 2016 at Stony Brook University. The program was open to middle and high school students who are cancer survivors or patients with cancer, hematologic disorders or other chronic illnesses, as well as their parents, siblings and guidance counselors.
The intent of the program was to empower and inspire students, their siblings, parents and school personnel about the special needs facing this unique population to help them realize their academic goals. A series of guest speakers provided guidance on a range of topics: college selection, application and admissions, student life, disability services, academic programs, health services, financial aid etc. The expo featured representatives from nine regional colleges and eight health organizations who were available to speak individually with students and families about admissions, financial aid, disability and support services, residential and campus life.
Over 100 people, including students, their families, guest speakers, college representatives and Project Sunshine volunteers, attended the event. Attendees said, “The event was informative and well organized. I would highly recommend making it an annual event” and “This event was fabulous! Thank you for this presentation and the amazing presenters. The information given is essential for all patients and families.”
According to Nicole Gutman, MS, Coordinator, The School Intervention & Re-entry Program, Stony Brook Children’s Hospital, they were “proud to offer this one of a kind college expo.”
“Students with cancer and blood disorders have unique needs as they plan for college. In addition to the usual worries of getting into your dream school, leaving home for the first time, and managing finances, these students must also consider things like neurocognitive effects, the availability of special services, proximity to a hospital, their ability to handle a full course load, and special living arrangements. We hope this workshop gave them the information they need to achieve their academic goals.”